Establishing a Drug Testing Program

Although Virginia has no general law dealing with drug testing in employment, the state does have drug testing provisions for school bus drivers, and drug-free workplaces must be maintained by certain public contractors. However, the workers' compensation law provides for premium discounts of up to five percent for employers with drug-free workplace programs. In addition to this financial incentive, maintaining a work environment free of the influences of alcohol and drugs contributes to a more productive workforce. Following are some guidelines for establishing a testing program for alcohol and drugs at your company.

Notice Inform applicants and employees in advance of the drug-testing program and under what circumstances testing will be conducted. Describe the test, the substances included in the test, and test procedures. Apply the policy to all employees, including supervisors and managers. If testing applicants, conduct post-offer tests for applicants for all jobs.

Consent Get written consent from applicants and employees before administering a test. Language on the form should specify that by signing the form, the individual acknowledges having read and understands the policy, consents to the test, and permits the release of test results to the company. Consider leaving space on the form for the individual to list any medications he or she is currently taking. The form should also contain language releasing the company, physician, and testing lab from any liability arising out of the administration of the test or use of the test results.

Test Procedures Describe the procedures for conducting the test and collecting and labeling specimens. Establish chain-of-custody procedures with a reputable lab. Agree in advance (in writing) with the lab about what will determine a positive test result.

Confirmation Validate positive tests. When a routine test is positive, follow up with a confirming test of the same specimen using a test such as the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry test.

Due Process Provide individuals the opportunity to explain or rebut positive test results.

Confidentiality Maintain all test results in strict confidence in a separate confidential, secured medical file, releasing results within the company only to those with a business need to know.

Consequences Specify the consequences of a positive test result or refusal to submit to testing. Consider giving employees an opportunity to keep their job by undergoing treatment and submitting to future random testing.

For Assistance with this Issue.....

Should you have questions about drug testing or other employment policies, you may contact SESCO Management Consultants by phone at 423-764-4127 or by e-mail at sesco@sescomgt.com .